An Idiot’s Guide to Time - by Warren Ellis
OK, so this one’s going to be a bit odd, but something came up in physics news this week that amuses the hell out of me, so you’re just going to have to put up with this.
Time’s arrow. A perfectly horizontal line moving from past through present to future. This is how we understand time to work.
If you smash some particles together in an accelerator, they turn into a spray of other particles. If you were to run the movie of that collision backwards—one that showed those other particles forming the original particles—that would, in fact, appear just as valid. This is called time reversal symmetry. Time is basically symmetrical at the quantum level. It’s all just particles and energy moving around. And this quantum bullshit dimension contains all the tiny machinery that decides how everything works.
But these people here discovered a subatomic process that doesn’t behave in that way. Working in antimatter physics, deep down in the hadronic depths with mesons (tiny things, found on a scale several powers tinier than the fields that nanomachines operate in), they found something that wasn’t supposed to happen. Down in the murk, these weird flavors of meson turn into different kinds of stuff all the time. In a world with symmetrical time, the conditions down there say that Thing A will become Thing B more easily than Thing B will turn into Thing A. It’s how the reversed movie makes sense.
But it turns out that Thing B turns into Thing A six times more often. This is a bit like reversing a video of a glass of water being dropped, winding it back to the start—and finding it simply won’t go back to the point before the glass tipped over. Time has a preferred direction. Time is asymmetrical.
In fact, you could possibly conceive of time as being a downward slope. Our slide into the future is inexorable. Everything is slipping down time’s mountainside.
Makes you wonder what’s at the bottom, doesn’t it?
Warren Ellis’ Last Post About the Election
So I wrote this book called Transmetropolitan, set in the US, and partway through there’s a Presidential election between a man nicknamed The Beast and a man nicknamed The Smiler. The thing about The Smiler is that, in the dozen years since I wrote that book, people seem able to map half of all politicians on to him, dependent on their personal politics. Anyway. It’s clearly going to be a close-run election, and that gets even tighter when a huge, freakish storm strikes the biggest city in America.
So you can imagine what my week’s been like.
It was bad enough when Romney’s “47 percent” talk eerily echoed a speech The Beast gave inTransmetropolitan. Now I’m being blamed for a lethal storm striking New York City.
I write this about eight days before voting day. US Presidential politics are a favorite spectator sport of mine, and I’m sad to see the cycle end, even though this one hasn’t really been a good game. President Obama’s fairly grim, toothless, meandering and perfunctory presidency gained excellent contrast from an assemblage of GOP candidates so demented and corrupt that even to describe them as such would be an insult to the many hard-working demented and corrupt politicians extant today. It was an array of desperate, shambling criminals (and Jon Huntsman, who presumably was there on a bet) that may have been unprecedented, even in the stinking cesspool of American politics, in its lunatic evil. The “winner” of the GOP race was always going to be the one who didn’t shit themselves on stage. But the GOP itself couldn’t win, because, considering the bunch running, the best you could hope for was a candidate who didn’t shit themselves on stage.
There has long been a notion abroad that positions of authority should be given to the best-qualified people who don’t want them, as the job of “ruler,” like “censor,” does not necessarily attract the best kind of human being. That would, of course, kill the inherent black comedy in politics-watching. The creatures who fight and kick and bite for the right to fuck with our lives tend to be grotesques and serve as warnings. Warnings we never heed, of course, because we end up voting something in from that shallow pool of eels every time.
Continue: The Death of Fun in Politics, by Warren Ellis
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Welcome to the new column from award-winning comic author, novelist, and television writer Warren Ellis. Good Morning Sinners will look at the news stories of today and turn them into a vision of the future that is nothing less than 99 percent accurate.
Somewhere, in some gilded bunker of the 1 percent, a very old, very rich man is laying plans to print himself a new cock. Perhaps one with cameras in it. And maybe a gun.